Belgian blue meat breed of cows: characteristics, care and feeding
The Belgian breed of cows, first of all, is known for the fact that its representatives are highly developed muscles and a lot of weight. They are even often called monster cows, bodybuilder cows. Belgian blue cow is one of the three best meat breeds. What advantages it still possesses and how to properly maintain it, will be considered in this material.
Description and breed standard
The breed was bred by the Belgians in the 1950s of the last century. Breeders set themselves the goal of obtaining a cow that would have excellent muscle development and that would produce enough high-quality milk.
For this purpose, breeders crossed the Shorthorn and local Frisian breeds. However, during the selection process, the guidelines changed, and the bet was made on meat characteristics.
As a result, in 1973, 2 types of Belgian cows appeared: combined (with good meat and dairy indicators) and meat purposes.
|Muscle||Strongly developed, especially in the back, shoulders, neck, withers, lower back|
|Limbs||Short, strong, with well-developed muscles and rounded hips|
|Suit||White, blue, black, rarely red|
|Height at the withers||Heifers - 132-134 cm; bulls - 145-150 cm|
Important! You can buy a Belgian breed in 2 ways: order a calf from Europe (cost about 2 thousand dollars + payment for transportation services), order seed and artificially fertilize a local cow (300-400 euros for 100 sperm).
Advantages and disadvantages
- Among the advantages of a Belgian blue cow, it is worth noting:
- large body weight;
- high-quality meat, delicate in taste and containing a small percentage of fat and cholesterol;
- early maturity - animals reach puberty earlier than other representatives of the meat direction, and the first calving occurs in 26–28 months;
- fast growth - in 16-18 months the calf can already reach 700-750 kg;
- mass building throughout life;
- large meat yield;
- a short period of gestation - 281-285 days;
- calm, flexible disposition.
- The disadvantages include:
- unattractive, frightening appearance - these cows on the exterior resemble pigs;
- often observed difficult childbirth;
- thermophilicity and intolerance of temperature jumps;
- frequent problems with the forelimbs;
- short lifespan.
Maintenance and care
In order to achieve maximum productivity from cattle, it is necessary to observe the recommended living conditions and care measures, monitor the quality of the feed and properly draw up a diet.
For keeping animals you need a barn with certain temperature, light and humidity parameters and an open area for walking or living in the open.
The content of the “Belgians” can conditionally be divided into 3 stages:
- Growing calves with mothers.
- Growing young individuals.
- Fattening of adult animals.
Did you know? The Belgian breed of cows contains a double gene, which allows you to continuously produce myostatin protein, and, consequently, build muscle during the whole life. In other breeds, musculature grows only until a certain time.
A summer area for keeping is fenced off at the rate of 20 square meters. m per 1 individual. It is necessary for the safe living of animals in a loose manner.
A prerequisite is the presence of drinking bowls with constantly updated clean water, as well as feeders with hay and other feeds.
You can try to keep the cows loose and in a lightweight design. The loose housing method makes it easier to care for the herd and minimize work using mechanics. But you need to be prepared for the fact that this method consumes more feed and bedding.
Arrangement of premises
Among the shortcomings of the breed, we noted heat lovingness, which means that in regions with harsh winters, cows must be provided with a warm barn with an area of 20 cubic meters for living. m per 1 adult animal and 10 cubic meters. m per 1 calf. It is best if it is brick, limestone, from sandwich panels. The walls need to be insulated.
The floors should also be warm - wooden or with wooden flooring. Straw litter is laid on the floors at the rate of 2.5 kg of straw per 1 animal.
If possible, then in the winter home you need to make the floor tilted and drain or sewer. So you can significantly facilitate the cleaning process.
Conditions of detention
To maintain a Belgian cow, it is necessary to maintain the following parameters in the barn:
- air temperature - +5 ... + 20 degrees;
- humidity is 50–70%.
The barn should be light, clean and fresh. A prerequisite is the availability of quality ventilation: natural or forced. Ventilation allows you to remove excess moisture, ammonia, secreted from the feces of animals, and give an influx of fresh air. And this, in turn, prevents the multiplication of pathogens.
For lighting, the barn should have large windows that face east or south. Artificial light sources are used for illumination in winter and autumn.
Did you know? The world record for live weight of beef bulls was registered in 1847 in France. This is a representative of the Kiana breed, which weighs 1934 kg.
An important condition for the normal functioning of the body, good health and a quick set of muscle mass is walking. It is recommended to walk the cows daily, at least 2-3 hours, except for days with adverse weather conditions. The walking area must be sown with juicy and healthy herbs.
Regular cleaning of the stall and equipment
So that the cows do not get sick and do not slow down the growth rate, the necessary sanitary standards must be adhered to when keeping them. Manure needs to be cleaned every day - ideally in the morning and in the evening. Daily it is necessary to wash the feeders and drinking bowls. Inventory is washed immediately after use.
Once a week or 10 days you need to add bedding. Once a month it needs to be replaced.
Cleaning with disinfectants is carried out 1-2 times a year.
The diet of adult representatives of the Belgian blue breed should be balanced, with a predominance of roughage. It is signed depending on the time of the year, the area of residence, age and the period in which the cow is - pregnant or lactational.
Important! In order for young animals to quickly gain weight and intensively build muscle mass, before they reach 2 months of age, they drink it with milk according to a certain pattern. During this time, babies should receive 350 liters of milk.
Summer grazing in the pasture
In summer, the animal needs to eat pasture with juicy green herbs, which is located on the place for walking cows. The rate of consumption of greenery is at least 50 kg per 450-500 kg of live weight. In addition, the diet should have hay and succulent feed - root crops, tubers, and melons.
If cows produce 12 liters of milk per day or more, they also need to provide food waste.
In percentage terms, the summer diet should look like this:
- hay - 20%;
- greens - 40%;
- concentrates - 40%.
Cows should not be allowed to go hungry for a walk. This is fraught with the fact that animals will eat grass greedily and can make digestive problems. Before walking, you need to give a portion of hay or straw.
Differences in winter feeding
In the winter diet of meat cows there should be coarse, succulent and combined feeds, the preparation of which must be taken care of in the summer and autumn periods.
A sample daily menu for one adult Belgian cow might look like this:
- meadow hay - 8-10 kg;
- bread - 0.5 kg;
- beets - 3 kg;
- carrots - 2 kg;
- potatoes - 4 kg;
- Chaff - 0.5 kg;
- spring straw - 4 kg;
- wheat bran - 1 kg;
- mixed grass silage - 5 kg;
- food waste - 8 kg;
- salt - 50-70 g.
Bone meal, tricalcium phosphate, phosphate supplements are used as mineral top dressing.
Important! Feed straw must be crushed and mixed with concentrates, as well as heat treated. It is necessary to ensure that it is of high quality, without mold, since it is this product that often leads to poisoning of animals.
To correctly draw up a diet that includes valuable elements, you must adhere to such recommendations per 100 kg of live weight per day:
- protein - 150 g;
- calcium - 14-15 g;
- phosphorus - 8 g;
- carotene - 70 g.
Each cow needs to provide at least 50 liters of clean water per day; adult bulls may need up to 70 liters.
It is advisable that in the barn and on the summer terrace, automatic drinkers with a constant supply of water and open access to animals be equipped with them. So, cows can drink as much as they need.
Water needs to be warmed to room temperature. Frequent colds can occur in animals due to cold water. Today on sale there are drinking bowls equipped with heating.
So, representatives of the Belgian blue breed is an excellent option for obtaining high-quality meat. Today, these cows are not common in our latitudes, however, they definitely deserve the attention of breeders, because they have a number of advantages over other meat representatives.
Their maintenance is simple, the feeding rules are the same as with other breeds intended for meat.